FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Brad Friedel did not hesitate when asked what lessons he wants his New England Revolution side to take away from last weekend’s loss to Columbus Crew SC.
“Be a lot more aggressive going forward,” he said. “Going forward, we have to have a lot more urgency getting in the other half a lot quicker in the transition, and then decide whether we want to go to goal or keep the ball from there.
“We have good enough players to do that. For some reason, especially in the first half, (we were) very passive at doing it. It’s something that we’ll try to address.”
Friedel called the Revolution’s first-half performance against Columbus “static,” a sentiment supported by the stats as the Revs generated just three shots in the opening 45 minutes. While there was a bit more energy after the break – eight shots, including six inside the box, sparked by halftime substitutes Diego Fagundez and Justin Rennicks – the Revs know they’ll need to be a lot sharper in Toronto.
Most importantly, that energy needs to be there from the opening whistle.
“I think the first half (against Columbus) was a little slow and not enough urgency on our part,” said Scott Caldwell, echoing Friedel’s assessment. “We definitely picked it up in the second half, but we can’t let that become a habit. A faster start is something to work on.
“We’re not creating enough, and we’re not turning our defensive challenges and our defensive steps into anything on the attacking end. I think that’s something we have to improve on and something that we’ll continue to work out.”
While the Revs admit there’s work to be done in the attacking end, having scored just one goal through the first two weeks, they’ve largely been satisfied with their defensive performances through two games. They’ve conceded three goals, but that doesn’t tell the entire story, particularly as they conceded in the sixth minute of stoppage time against Crew SC as they threw numbers forward in search of an equalizer.
New England have rarely been threatened by FC Dallas and Columbus, allowing just 15 shots total through two games, tied with the Chicago Fire for fewest in the league amongst teams who’ve played twice. Only the New York Red Bulls (13) are better, having played just one match.
That’s a promising statistic for a Revolution side that needed to improve drastically after leaking 55 goals last season, and offseason addition Edgar Castillo and a retooled tactical approach appear to be providing early returns in that department.
Of course, limiting chances is one thing, but limiting goals is the ultimate objective.
“I think we’ve done a good job of staying together in good shape, and not allowing quality chances – not many of them, at least,” said Caldwell. “That’s something to build on, but we definitely have to keep a clean sheet.”
New England’s next chance to keep a clean sheet will be on Sunday night, when they’ll visit Toronto FC at BMO Field. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m., with coverage in English on NBC Sports Boston and 98.5 The Sports Hub, and in Portuguese on 1260 AM Nossa Radio USA.